HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Harrisburg congregation is continuing its mission to make sure emergency responders are well fed and well appreciated each Thanksgiving.
It started the Thanksgiving after 9/11. Each year, the synagogue cooks an entire Thanksgiving meal and brings it to the firehouse to thank them for working through the holiday.
The idea was cooked up by retired firefighter Mark Powers.
“It gives us the opportunity to say thank you,” Powers said.
It began 16 years ago, when the country was recovering from the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
Since then, Powers’ synagogue, Kesher Israel in Harrisburg, carries on the tradition.
“We always serve the firefighters on Thanksgiving Day,” said 3-year-old Brian Dym, who has been volunteering since he was three years old.
Thursday, he saw first hand why, as an alarm sounded and firefighters had to leave their plates to respond.
“Thank you for serving on Thanksgiving Day because a couple of times they had to go while we were serving them to go save people,” Dym said.
Captain Aldo Morelli of the Harrisburg Fire Department says it’s tough to work the holidays.
“I missed my second son’s first Christmas because I was working the holiday,” Morelli said. “But that’s something you sign up for.”
When the guys returned from their call, Dym gave a little extra this year.
As he handed Morelli a box full of smoke detectors, Brian said, “We appreciate everything you have done and do every day.”
He calls the gesture a “mitzvah,” which means “good deed” in Hebrew. Brian is celebrating his Bar Mitzvah, a Jewish rite of passage, this Thanksgiving.
Mark Powers smiled Thanksgiving Day, looking out on the meal that was his brainchild 16 years ago.
“It brings the synagogue together. It brings people together. It brings families together,” Powers said.